What happened, and what we can do moving forward
Only two months into his presidency and already a slew of executive orders have been issued concerning a wide array of topics. The two concerning undocumented migrants are here and here.
These executive orders allow for stricter enforcement of current immigration laws. Read the orders, they’re short, to surmise, if the federal government deems you a threat to national security, you can be deported. Even if you have not committed a criminal offense. For every Trump supporter who said that “he wouldn’t break families apart”, or “build a wall”, or keep any of his campaign promises; firstly, why vote for someone who knowingly lies, and secondly, why wouldn’t he deliver on what he said? He has no reason not to.
We can run circles about how America is a nation of immigrants, how we represent the ‘melting pot’ of cultures, and those immigrants make us stronger. Excluding groups of non-white people isn’t a new phenomenon for the United States. Trump built upon long-standing ethnocentrism and works towards fulfilling his promises. Previous Presidents deported millions of people from this country, even turned away refugees. So, now that a privileged hobgoblin with no discernible skills emulates what his predecessors have done, table flipping ensues.
Regardless, we are here now, finally people recognize that our immigration laws are regressive and need to change. To properly become a resident of the US, the process can take years, and possibly over a decade. So, overstaying a visa becomes not uncommon. Does this make you a bad person? Several generations ago, someone could come in by boat, have a six second health inspection, be questioned about destination and job prospects, pay a fee, then bam! American. Nowadays, the processing takes years. Yes, people may lie. Yes, things are more complicated now. What if someone wants to do harm? Well, if we stop acting like a global imperial police force, then I’m sure we would be received differently.
What about those already here? Talking with several undocumented migrants, they stated that;
“I’m not too worried about the Trump order. As long as I don’t do anything, they have no reason to stop me.”
“Something can happen, that’s why I’m not going back home for a few years.”
“If they take us, that’s fine. We can make a life back home.”
The meat and bones of these executive orders concern themselves with migrants already here. Well, as stated previously, US Immigration and Customs Enforcement, ICE, has the authority to deport you if they deem you a threat to national security and public safety. Recently, we see families torn apart, and businesses in jeopardy because of the executive order and citizens questioned.
According to the Center for Migration Studies and Migration Policy Institute, in 2014 around 1.6 million undocumented AAPI migrants living in the US. Mostly in California, but in other largely populated states too.
What do those individuals do? Firstly, understand the rights entitled to you. Individuals have the right to not be searched without a warrant signed by a judge. If you are detained, you have the right to an immigration hearing, and you have the right of legal representation. Make sure to have the contact information for an immigration lawyer handy, and to stay in communication with family members and friends. Know that people care and want to help. Local communities, church groups, and organizations provide resources to help. If you want to be an ally, get involved as well. Here and here are links for resources across the country that provide help to undocumented migrants. They also provide ways for allies to take part.
The current administration may try to break us apart, but we are strong together.